(Petaling Jaya, Friday): The outrageous and divisive 43rd Merdeka Day message by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad is costing the Malaysian economy dear with adverse market reactions as seen in the plunge in the stock market while the rest of the world went up.
At the close of trading this morning, the KLSE Composite Index plunged 23.37 points to 772.47 after the stock market free-fall touched 770.63 at noon, a hefty 3 per cent tumble.
In contrast, Asian investors in the region bounced back, jumping into technology shares after the Nasdaq scored triple-digits gains.
Tokyo's Nikkei Average broke above the key 17,000 level at one stage before giving some of the gains back to stand at 16,913.80 by midday, up 0.31 percent, or 52.54 points.
South Korea's KOSPI, which had lost nearly 6 percent during the last two trading days, rose by 0.66 percent, or 4.52 points, to 693.14 by late morning.
Hong Kong stock prices opened sharply higher, with the Hang Seng Index jumping 1.09 percent, or 185.53 points, to 17,283.04 shortly after the open.
Singapore's Straits Times Index added 0.61 percent to 2,160.88 this morning.
The Prime Minister and the entire Cabinet should take very seriously the enormous damage Mahathirís 43rd Merdeka Day message has done to inter-racial harmony and economic recovery, but also to Malaysiaís international reputation.
If there is any speech which would drive away foreign direct investment, it would be difficult to find a more effective one than Mahathirís 43rd Merdeka Day message.
The least that the Cabinet should do on Wednesday is to issue a formal apology for the Prime Ministerís 43rd Merdeka Day message, withdrawing baseless allegations not only against Suqui Committee but also the Chinese newspapers who were accused as "like to invoke feelings of guilt among the moderate Chinese" and equating them with the "libellous Malay-operated websites on the Internet".
Just as Mahathir and Cabinet should withdraw the comparison likening Suqiu Committee with Al-Maíunah and "communists yesteryears", they should withdraw the comparison likening Chinese newspapers with "libellous Malay-operated websites on the Internet".
Can any Cabinet Minister explain why Utusan Malaysia and Utusan Melayu which are chiefly responsible for the synthetic political and communal crisis in inflaming communal sentiments in the country have been omitted from official censure, when the innocent Chinese newspapers are scapegoated?